The government as shareholder: reality or metaphor? To what extent is company law “coloured” by the presence of a government shareholder?

Project Details


In Belgium, as well as in other countries, there is an increasing number of "companies" in which a government (i.e. a public authority) takes on the role of a shareholder. However, it is unclear to what extent the fundamental rules and principles of company law are "coloured" (influenced) by the presence of such a shareholder. At the core of this problem lies the power of a government to unilaterally modify the organisation and functioning of a "company" and to impose certain decisions on corporate bodies and/or (other) shareholders through its "imperium", depriving them of their decision-making power.

I propose to examine this question from a company law perspective and to test to what extent government shareholdership is "real" or, rather, changes the fundamentals of company law in such a critical way that it appears to be nothing more than a metaphor. My research strategy is to analyse the various European and Belgian legal sources, supplemented by functional comparison
with the French and English legal systems. If a reassessment of the role of the government shareholder is deemed necessary, I will suggest adjustments at the legislative, policy and/or organisational level.

The research project will provide insights into the role of the government shareholder and should present a groundbreaking legal framework not only for judges and other law practitioners confronted with government shareholders, but also for governments themselves, market players and society as a whole.
Effective start/end date1/10/1430/09/19

Flemish discipline codes

  • Law not elsewhere classified


  • public enterprise
  • government shareholdership